Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buy Handmade vol 52

This week we head to London

Name: Michelle Kreussel

Age: 33
Occupation: I work at a catering company, but going to do The Fox in the Attic full-time in July.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Michelle Kreussel.  I was born and grew up in Parys, South Africa, and am now settled in London, England. I live in a small house near the River Thames with my fiancĂ© and our naughty ginger cat.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I have always been creative, from a very young age my mum encouraged me and my brother to be creative through many processes including painting, playing with clay and lots of reading. One day on a spontaneous whim I decided to start sewing and doing embroidery. I had lots of help and encouragement from friends and family, so after experimenting with my toys for a while I decided to sell them online. I joined Etsy in March 2011.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
Where I live I frequently see wild urban foxes on the street, or in the garden, and on the shed roof.  I knew I wanted the word ‘fox’ somewhere in the name, and the first idea I came up with was Velvet Fox.  But after some more thought, the phrase The Fox In The Attic just popped into my head and my mind was made up.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

Etsy has not become my full time job quite yet, although it sometimes feels like it is! I recently handed in my notice at my day job, in order to give me more time to work on my Etsy products and focus on The Fox In The Attic more.  

How would you describe your creative process?

Ideas are always popping into my head.  Often I will focus on a particular 'season' that may be coming up, like Easter/Spring or Halloween, Christmas or Valentines, and have a brainstorming session where I will doodle out ideas. I have lots of little sketch books that fill up with new creatures and designs. When I get stuck I page through my books to help inspire new ideas.  After that, I usually create one prototype of an item to see if it will work and by posting images on my Facebook or Instagram I get lots of feedback from my fans and customers.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspirations come from all over the place.  I love going to exhibitions of famous artists (Van Gogh, GauguinKahlo) and more esoteric museum exhibitions.  Nature is a central well-spring of inspiration, along with looking at nature illustrations and paintings from the past and present.  Trees, flowers, botanical plants, insects, animals all find their eventual expression somewhere in The Fox In The Attic, along with historic pattern and architecture and a whole host of other varied sources.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

My mum is constantly making hand-made items as well as my grandmother, so I have many special items, but I think a green crochet teddy that my mum made and a crochet blanket from my grandmother are amongst my favourites. I also treasure the very first bunny I made.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

Cooking, and particularly baking, is a huge passion of mine.  I enjoy learning how to make different types of bread, and my husband-to-be enjoys any new cakes I like to try out.  Reading biographies of historical characters is also something I massively enjoy, from Shakespeare to Queen Elizabeth I to Byron and Dickens. I also love visiting National Trust and Heritage sites and gardens of all sorts, as well as hiking and rambling in the countryside. (Not much time for doing this at the moment) 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?

Although it's pretty much unimaginable for me not to be creative in some way, I suppose a home-making life involving growing and tending a garden with vegetables and animals would be what I'd want to do. I would love to have an orchard, beehives and to be a bit more self-sufficient.

Five years from now you will be…

Almost certainly living somewhere in the English countryside (Somerset, Devon or Cornwall maybe), with a little family of my own, and definitely still busy with The Fox in the Attic.

Describe yourself in five words:

Ambitious, Creative, Wilful, Interested, Open.

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your iPhone what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Pink Floyd - 'Wish you were Here'
Alistair Griffin - 'Just Drive'
Gotye - 'Somebody That I Used To Know' - 'Scream & Shout'
Queen - 'Under Pressure'

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Look at other people’s shops, and really think about what type of shop you want to have. Spend a lot of time honing and revising and tinkering. Be prepared to take some knocks. If you have doubts in yourself or your products, don't let it linger too long, try something new or reinvent something old and remember that if you love what you do you are already one of the lucky few. x

Michelle is also offering everyone a promotional code for the month of April: HappyApril13

**photography by Angela Donnithorne